This EI factor is defined as our ability to look inward and accurately perceive, understand and accept ourselves. It is having the capacity to accurately look at and evaluate ourselves, which can eventually lead to accepting and respecting ourselves. Respecting ourselves is, essentially, the ability to like the way we are with all the ‘good points’ and ‘bad points’ that we possess. Self-acceptance is thus the ability to accept our positive and negative qualities, strengths and weaknesses as well as our limitations and possibilities. This aspect of emotional-social intelligence is directly associated with self-awareness. It impacts feelings of self-esteem, security, inner strength, self-assuredness, self-confidence and healthy self-reliance (rather than being dependent on others); but, self-regard is not synonymous with these feelings. Feeling sure of ourselves is dependent upon basic self-respect, which is associated with a well-developed sense of identity of who we are as a person.
A person with good self-regard often feels fulfilled and satisfied. Additionally, an optimal level of self-regard impacts the way we conduct and carry ourselves as well as the general image that we project outwardly. For leaders, projecting the image or “presence” of a successful leader is nearly as important as being a successful leader. Excessively high levels of self-regard, however, can be problematic. For example, people with extremely high levels of self-regard can appear narcissistic and egocentric at times; and they typically tend to talk about their positive attributes, strengths and accomplishments often making others feel uncomfortable in their presence. High levels of this factor, therefore, need to be balanced with good interpersonal skills so that these more negative aspects of self-regard do not create problems in social interactions with family, friends and colleagues at work.
At the opposite end of the self-regard continuum are feelings of personal inadequacy and inferiority that can contribute to frustration, depressive mood and difficulty in accomplishing personal goals and enjoying life.
It is important to point out from the outset that although some psychologists have claimed that self-regard and a number of other factorial components of the Bar-On EI model are personality traits, these EI factors are in essence competencies, skills and behaviors which are often associated with and even significantly correlated with various aspects of personality as well as various other bio-psycho-social factors but are not synonymous with them. For example, self-regard is also associated with self-actualization, but the two are obviously not identical entities. Additionally and unlike personality traits, these EI factors are malleable, change over time and can be improved.